Since 2011 the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center has been home to the Houston Cougar Masters, a U.S. Masters Swimming (USMS) team. Greg Orphanides has been the coach of the Houston Cougar Masters since 2009 when he founded the club at the University of Houston.
In 2013 Greg Orphanides was awarded the Kerry O’Brien Coaching Award by U.S. Masters Swimming. This award recognizes and thanks USMS coaches excel in the areas of building a foundation of a new club, reenergizing an existing club, mentoring a new club, create coaching education opportunities or successfully drive new events for USMS members such as meets, open water swims or clinics. The award was named for Kerry O’Briend, whose energy and enthusiasm is at the heart of a very successful Walnut Creek Masters program, and has provided a shining example of the difference a USMS coach can make in the lives of their club’s members.
The ERJCC is happy to congratulate Greg on his award.
Below is an excerpt from his award nomination:
Greg encourages team cohesiveness. E-mail blasts are sent to all team members on a regular basis keeping them up to date on upcoming swim events, member accomplishments, and other important announcements. We have a holiday party each December and an open water swim and picnic each May. Greg makes sure that our swimmers are aware that they are a part of a larger swimming community, USMS. Each newly registered swimmer is given a USMS swim cap, decal, and luggage tag.
Swim competition is encouraged. Greg trains and competes in USMS, attending local events as both coach and competitor. The majority of our members are triathletes and most had never participated in a swim meet. With Greg’s encouragement, COOG fielded the most competitors at Houston’s largest SCY meet with over 25% of our members competing.
In spring of 2013 two evening workouts were added, providing eleven workout opportunities for our members. Greg is on deck for all workout sessions, providing motivation and technique correction. While he comes to the pool with a prepared workout, he will readily modify it as needed based on the individual swimmer’s circumstances.
One of Greg’s greatest strengths is his ability to encourage swimmers to accomplish feats they did not believe were possible. Whether it’s getting through a tough set, entering a first meet, or completing a 400 IM in competition, Greg’s contagious enthusiasm has brought many of our members to new, previously unexplored heights in their swimming journey.
Greg has given back to the local masters swimming community by volunteering as a coach at technique clinics sponsored by the Gulf LMSC.
Additionally, Greg’s coaching has yielded several USMS national champions, All Americans, and National Top Ten swimmers.
In summary, Greg encourages fun, fitness, team spirit, competition, and love of swimming, mirroring the mission of USMS. He has filled a need in the Houston area masters swimming community and has brought in many members who most likely would not have joined USMS.